FORTVILLE — They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the Mt. Vernon football team didn’t feel anything but flattened on Friday.
Implementing the same run-heavy formation the Marauders have used to dominate opponents the past two seasons, Kokomo scampered to a 55-7 victory Friday in the season opener.
Out of the double wing-T set, Kokomo backs Bo Baker, Jordan Holloman and Jeron Gray combined for 232 first-half rushing yards on just 24 carries as the Wildkats opened a 35-0 lead late in the second quarter.
“At halftime, I was like, ‘Now I know how those guys felt,’” said Mt. Vernon coach Doug Armstrong, whose team went a combined 20-5 in 2012 and 2013, including a 29-19 win over the Wildkats last season. “It was very reminiscent of what we did last couple years.
“We got double-winged. They’re big, strong with a couple really good backs and they kind of overpowered us for the most part.”
The Kokomo and Mt. Vernon offenses have mirrored one another since Armstrong installed the wing-T at MV in 2011, but the veteran coach changed things around heading into 2014.
He put sophomore quarterback Pete Werner in the shotgun, where he could carry the ball on the option or drop pack to pass – with senior brother and Division I tight end recruit Dan Werner a prime target.
For one series, the new offense showed promise.
With Pete Werner converting a pair of 4th-down rush attempts, including a 21-yard run on 4th-and-1, as well as completing an 11-yard pass to Dan, the Marauders put together a 14-play opening drive.
Getting as far as the Kokomo 35-yard line, the MV attack stalled on a pair of sacks from the Wildkats’ Brevin Beard and a false start penalty.
The Marauders were called for six false start/motion penalties on the night, to go along with other timing problems.
“We got some things that we can do, but we had multiple snap issues tonight which just decimated us offensively,” Armstrong said. “So, we’ll have to deal with that. We’ll be back at it tomorrow.”
Pete Werner suffered a high right ankle sprain late in the first quarter while playing defense and did not return. Jimmy Campbell took over at quarterback.
Werner finished 1-for-3 for 11 yards and Campbell was 1-for-3 for eight yards and one interception.
Brayton Shannon led the Marauders with 68 yards on seven carries, including MV’s lone score – a 68-yard run to end the first half.
Pete Werner was the Marauders’ leading rusher at the time of his exit with 30 yards on eight carries, which included a loss of 22 yards on the two sacks. The sophomore’s injury is likely not season-ending, but he’s doubtful for Mt. Vernon’s Week 2 trip to Marion, Armstrong said.
Class 5A No. 20 Kokomo was the dominant squad, no matter who MV had at quarterback, the coach added.
“Pete getting hurt, even though he’s a really good player, it wasn’t really a factor in the game,” Armstrong commented.
“That’s just a really good team. Big, huge, physical… and then Baker’s a really good back.”
Baker, a six-foot, 200-pound senior, finished with 125 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns. Gray ran for 131 yards on 17 touches with three scores. Holloman, the fullback, added 88 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts.
Pete Werner, a two-way starter, was MV’s only serious injury, but the club played without multiple starters on both sides of the ball due to suspensions and won’t have a full squad until Week 3.
“We had some guys in there that maybe were overwhelmed at first,” Armstrong said. “Our young guys got better throughout the game.
“At halftime we talked about getting better every rep, so that was kind of our focus.”
The Marauders will travel north to Marion next Friday for what has typically been a shootout. MV has won each contest in the recent three-game series by a average score of 53-31.
MV has opened the season 0-2 just once in the last 20 years, in 2008.
“You have adversity all the time, and it’s a long season,” Armstrong said. “We’ll just keep coaching them. Pete’s going to be out a couple weeks, probably. We’ll just keep coaching and keep playing and try to get better every week.”
Notes: Kokomo and Mt. Vernon have ended their series; MV will play Hamilton Heights in this spot next season. Kokomo finished with a 6-2 edge on the Marauders. … Baker now has 28 career rushing touchdowns, moving to No. 4 all-time at Kokomo, passing Justin Patterson. … The Wildkats finished with 419 yards rushing on 53 carries; Mt. Vernon ran for 149 yards on 30 carries.
Northeastern 34, Eastern Hancock 6
NE (1-0) 6 16 12 0 — 34
EH (0-1) 0 6 0 0 — 6
NE — Kirkland, 3-yard run (pass failed), 5:52.
EH — Myers, 30-yard interception return (pass failed), 10:36.
NE — Dingwerth, 20-yard pass from Claypoole (Kirkland run), 8:52.
NE — Claypoole, 9-yard run (Sandlin, 2-yard pass from Claypoole), 0:08.
NE — Kirkland, 10-yard run (run failed), 6:26.
NE — Dingwerth, 41-yard pass from Claypoole (pass failed), 5:00.
First downs 16 11
Rushes-yards 55-215 32-125
Passing yards 182 86
Comp-Att-Int 11-19-1 11-28-3
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 2-2
Penalties-Yards 13-101 5-25
Rushing: Kirkland 17-73, Tudor 5-37, Claypoole 6-94, Sandlin 4-7, Hughes 1-4 (NE); Spegal 9-45, Splater 9-47, Henderson 6-19, Lacy 8-14 (EH).
Passing: Claypoole 11-19-182 (NE); Splater 4-9-33, Lacy 7-17-53, Lewis 0-2-0 (EH).
Receiving: Kirkland 3-33, Sandlin 1-7, Tudor 1-40, Dingwerth 6-102 (NE); Henderson 7-21, Denny 2-26, Smith 2-39 (EH).